2010-2011 Academic Catalog 
    Apr 12, 2024  
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Major

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Undergraduate Program

Geography and its links to Clark’s newest majors, Global Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science, takes students into the world of integrated science by focusing on the relationships between people and their environments, as well as offering the lens of geographical information systems to explore these relationships. Students work on problems of sustainable development; the livability of cities and the causes and consequences of urban sprawl; climate change; local consequences of economic globalization; social consequences of climate change; and politics, gender, and livelihood chances. Majors also have the opportunity to become experts in GIScience (geographic information science).

Special facilities available to students include the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library at the George Perkins Marsh Institute; the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library, the Clark Labs for Cartographic Technologies and Geographic Analysis, J.K. Wright GISc Lab, and an earth-science teaching and research laboratory.

The Clark Advantage

Geography majors, Global Environmental Studies (GES) majors and Environmental Science (ES) majors concentrating in Earth Systems Science (ESS) have the opportunity to work on research projects with faculty members and graduate students in one of the most prestigious graduate programs of geography worldwide. Summer Fellowships are available for qualified students to participate in the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program, an intensive summer academic-year research effort focused on environmental change in New England. Eligible majors also have the opportunity to enter the tuition-free, accelerated M.A. in GIScience program. Other accelerated M.A. programs include International Development and Social Change, Environmental Science and Policy, and Community Development and Planning.

Geography, GES, and ESS undergraduates are served by the Clark University Geography Association (CUGA) and Gamma Theta Upsilon, an international geographic honors society.

CUGA is the voice of Geography, GES, and ESS majors, with student representation on the undergraduate studies committee and the opportunity to attend departmental meetings. CUGA representatives are able to vote at department meetings and give their ideas and opinions on various topics that concern undergraduate majors. They also attend field trips and periodically have group gatherings to discuss topics of interest to geography majors, such as research, internships, courses and future jobs.

Gamma Theta Upsilon is an elite international honor society; initiates must have completed a minimum of three geography courses, have a B+ average in geography, rank in the upper 35% of their class, and have completed at least three semesters or five quarters of college course work. For more information on Gamma Theta Upsilon please see their Web site at: http://www.gammathetaupsilon.org/

Affiliate Faculty

Robert Kates, Ph.D.


Joanne Miller: Managing Editor, Economic Geography
Beverly Presley, A.M.L.S.: Map and Geography Librarian


Program Requirements

Students majoring in geography take a minimum of 10 Geography courses in accordance with the following guidelines:


Four core courses. Core courses emphasize core geographic concepts and ways of creating knowledge; courses in the core are designed to help build frameworks for understanding the world. Students select one core course from each of the following four broad disciplinary core areas:

Nature and Society:

Analyzes the ways that human societies have used, shaped, and constructed nature; impacts of societies, economies, and cultures on ecological systems.

Globalization, Cities and Development:

Examines the ways that space and location shape economic, sociopolitical, and cultural life; ways that economic, sociopolitical, and cultural factors shape space and location; relationships between these processes and the dynamics of urban life.

Earth Systems Science.

Examines how Earth systems (ecosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) naturally function, how these systems interact with one another, and how they are affected by human activities.

Geographic Information Science.

Geographic Information Science is concerned with the acquisition, analysis, and communication of geographic information; principles and techniques important in cartography, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and spatial analysis.


Two skills courses. All geography majors take Geog 141 Research Methods (offered each year) and one additional course in a skill area appropriate to the student’s area of specialization, as detailed in their learning plan (discussed below). The adviser’s signature on the learning plan signifies formal approval of this elective skills course. With the approval of the student’s adviser, a comparable skills course in another department can be substituted. Students substituting a skills course from another department will need to take an additional geography course to ensure that a total of 10 geography courses are taken.


Research Applications Experience. To fulfill the research applications requirement all geography majors must complete an independent research project and present the findings at a public event at Clark (e.g., Academic Spree Day, a Departmental poster session (offered every term)) or at other appropriate venues (e.g., professional meetings). All students must clearly articulate the problem being analyzed and the project must involve research design, data collection, analysis, and a reporting of the results through the public presentation. The research applications requirement can only be met after a student has completed GEOG 141 - Research Design and Methods in Geography  (or an approved equivalent from another program). A research applications project can be conducted through a research project that is part of any 200-level course in geography or through any other research project where the student is directly advised by a faculty member in the School of Geography (e.g., directed study, honors thesis, or HERO project).
To register for GEOG235 Research Applications Experience see instructions below.


The Capstone Experience. The capstone experience enables majors to link their particular interests/specializations to established schools of thought in the discipline of geography. To meet the requirement, students will write a 5-page (minimum) literature review as part of any 200-level geography course (including directed studies, HERO, or an honors thesis); a course that will ideally be taken during the student’s final year. The literature review will situate the student’s specialization in the major within wider trends and traditions in the discipline of geography. Specific guidance on how to write this review will be given by the professor leading the course or supervising the research project that is associated with the capstone experience. If desired, and as determined by the supervising professor, the capstone paper may be factored into the final grade for a course.
To register for GEOG236 Capstone Experience see instructions below.

Instructions for Research Applications Experience & Capstone Experience Completion

Student must choose a 200-level course through which to fulfill each requirement.

  1. Students must declare, in writing (a form can be found in the guide to the major), their intention to meet the research applications requirement or capstone through the course at least two days prior to the end of the add-drop period of the semester when they wish to get credit. The declaration must be approved and signed by the professor teaching the course or advising them on their research applications or capstone experience, and then given to the Undergraduate Program Assistant in Jefferson 220B.
  2. Students must register for GEOG 235 Research Applications Experience or GEOG 236 Capstone Experience, both are pass/no-credit courses run by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the given year.
    1. The DUS will create a space for the student in GEOG 235 or GEO G236 once she/he has received the intention form from with the appropriate faculty signatures. A copy of the intention form will be placed in the student’s file as evidence of the agreement between the professor and the student.
    2. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the intention form and turn it in to the Undergraduate Program Assistant, who will then give it to the DUS. Once the DUS has given the student permission for GEOG 235 or GEOG 236 the student must then formally register through Banner Web for the course.
  3. Once the student has successfully met the expectations as agreed to with the advising professor, the student must make sure that the advising professor notifies the DUS that a passing grade should be administered. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure their advisor notifies the DUS of her/his successful completion of the project or capstone paper.
  4. The Reseach Applications Experience and Capstone Experience are required of ALL students majoring in Geography.

Special Note: Professors have the right to decline a Research Applications or Capstone Experience request from any student and no faculty member is expected to have more than 5 research applications or capstone students in any semester. Thus it is imperative that a student carefully considers the professors and courses she/he will work with and use to meet these requirements and that she/he contacts the relevant professor in the semester prior to the beginning of the Research Applications or Capstone Experience Course.


Learning Plan and Learning Synopsis. Each student is required to prepare a formal learning plan upon declaring the major. This plan, which can take the form of the major planning sheet in the program guide, identifies the courses the student intends to take (and in which semesters) in order to complete the major requirements. This plan can and should be regularly updated, with files retained by the major advisor and/or the undergraduate coordinator, as well as by the student.

In addition by January 31 of the senior year, students must complete a learning synopsis. The synopsis will provide a comprehensive assessment of the Geography major as experienced by the student. Specifically, the synopsis describes and points to evidence of student achievement according to the goals of the major: 1) understanding the purpose and scope of the discipline of geography; 2) articulating relationships of people, culture, and society with the biophysical environment, or in relation to concepts of space and place; 3) mastery of appropriate skills; and 4) expertise and understanding of a particular topical focus within geography.


Requirements for the Dual Major in Geography. In accordance with University guidelines, the requirements for a dual major are identical to those of the individual major.

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